The final stop on our Canterbury tour is the old city wall and the Westgate which are connected by the high street. The largest remaining section of the wall borders the Dane John gardens, shown in our previous post, and follows the ring road that leads around the city. The old city wall is a Roman defensive wall built in about 280 AD. Large portions of the wall still stand today and you can walk along the top of it and step into what remains of defensive towers placed at intervals where archers would have been posted. The wall aids the cathedral in creating a real sense of venerable history to the city.
Originally there were seven gates that provided access to the inner part of Canterbury in the days when the Romans ruled and the wall ran all the way around the city. Now though there is only one, the Westgate, which was rebuilt to it’s current grandeur in the 14th century. It is the largest surviving city gate in England and still has an in-use road running under the gatehouse.
The main high street itself actually has a lot of history to speak of as well. Whilst the eastern end of the high street is entirely commercialised, the western end still retains some of it’s historical roots, with original medieval buildings dating to the 15th century still in use as restaurants or other small businesses. Walking down the main high street really shows the striking difference as you can watch large, modern, metal and glass structured shops slowly give way to smaller, older, wooden framed buildings that start to take on that slightly crooked look of very old buildings that have stood the test of time.
We’ve also come to appreciate Canterbury’s ability to make you forget that you’re in the middle of a city; you’ll often find quiet, calm, countryside-feeling gardens, parks and woodland almost right next to main, busy urban areas. In fact it wasn’t until fairly recently I discovered that in the area about 100 meters or so behind the house I’d lived in for 2 years was a large area of woodland and a little community park! If you’re willing to step, not even that far, of the beaten path then Canterbury will almost certainly reward you for it. The following pictures were taken in a small park which housed a 16th century monastery and all about 100 meters away from the main high street of the city!
Well that’s it on our tour of Canterbury so we hope you enjoyed this post and please do check out parts one and two if you’re interested, which can be found here and here (links will open in new windows).
Ben and Jess 🙂